September 30, 2015

The Muslim faith

Growing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam
by Sumbul Ali-Kramali

There is a lot of fear and misunderstanding when it comes to Muslims; misrepresentations by Western media have a lot to do with it. No religion is without problems, as Sumbul Ali-Kramali clearly demonstrates in her book. The interpretation of holy books are influenced by history, cultural differences, or patriarchal societies. It is left to individuals to decide how devout they choose to be.

Though it sounds serious, this is not that kind of book. Ali-Kramali writes with an accessible, light, gently humorous touch that dispels some of the mystery surrounding Islam. Divided into three parts, Part One covers food, prayer, holidays, clothing, and relationships between men and women, Part Two discusses the history of the Islamic faith, and Part Three takes a close look at demographics and the status of women.

Balanced by Ali-Kramali's personal experiences, this is a calm, insightful conversation about the Islamic faith that young and adult readers can easily appreciate.

September 28, 2015

Islamic contributions

The Genius of Islam: How Muslims Made the Modern World
by Bryn Barnard

We sometimes forget that the things we take for granted in the modern world were shaped and influenced by a variety of cultures. In this well-researched and thought-provoking book, Bryn Barnard discusses how we have benefited from Islamic innovations and inventions. The Arabic numerals we use in our calculations, the interlocking patterns of art and design, the early astrolabes to aid in navigation, and the creation of hospitals all began with the Muslim civilization.

A good reminder that there are two sides to every coin.

September 25, 2015

Desert life

Who Needs a Desert? A Desert Ecosystem
by Karen Patkau

Patkau's attractive, digitally rendered artwork provides almost as much information as the text in its depiction of a North American desert. Kids will enjoy searching out the camouflaged animals and learning about the desert ecosystem. 

A glossary is included.

Ages 8 and up.

Part of a series produced by Tundra Books, other titles depict the ecosystems of the Arctic, a coral reef, a jungle, a prairie, and a wetland.

September 23, 2015

Desert food webs

Desert Food Webs in Action
by Paul Fleisher

The simple text, photographs and discussion questions would make this a good book for primary classrooms. It introduces students to desert food webs and the animals and plants that keep the webs in action. 

Part of a series produced by Lerner Publishing Group, other titles examine the food webs of forests, grasslands, lakes and ponds, oceans, and tundras.

September 21, 2015

Desert animals

A Walk in the Desert
by Rebecca L. Johnson

An interesting and informative look at the animals that live in a typical North American desert. Photos and sidebars with finely-drawn pictures make the book particularly attractive.

Part of a series by CarolRhoda Books (a division of Lerner), other titles visit the boreal forest, the deciduous forest, the prairie, the rain forest, and the tundra.

September 18, 2015

Undersea adventure

Coral Reefs
by Jason Chin

The book opens with a girl removing a library book from a shelf, which just happens to be Coral Reefs by Jason Chin! As she begins to read, a coral reef starts to grow until, with a great gush of water, the entire library turns into an undersea world. As the girl goes on an exploratory swim, she watches the food web in action and sees how fish and octopuses adapt to their unique surroundings. It ends with the now dripping girl outside the library where she introduces other children to the wonders of the coral reef.

Chin's enchanting blend of reality and fantasy is creative nonfiction at its best. It's easy to see why so many readers have fallen in love with this book.

Highly recommended.

September 16, 2015

Beautiful coral reefs

Coral Reefs
by Seymour Simon

Spectacular photographs and simple text make for an excellent book for ages 6 and up. It's the next best thing to actual diving and will inspire kids to further exploration.

Seymour Simon has written many books about animals, science, engineering, outer space, the human body, and the Earth. For more information, go to his website at

September 14, 2015

Coral reef ecology

Who Needs a Reef? A Coral Ecosystem
by Karen Patkau

Patkau's digitally rendered artwork hides the residents of a coral reef, which kids will diligently seek out while learning about the reef's ecosystem. The reef is shown both by day and by night, while clear prose describes how it contributes to a healthy planet. 

End pages contain brief information about the reef inhabitants. Glossary included.

Ages 8 and up.

Part of a series produced by Tundra Books, other titles depict the ecosystems of the Arctic, a wetland, a jungle, a desert, and a prairie.